Monday, July 28, 2014

The Joy of a Completed Set: 1970 Topps Comic Booklets

Do you know that feeling when you spend some time looking through your collection only to realize that you are missing something?  Yhea... I felt that a week or so ago.

I was looking through my oddball insert set binder and came across the 1970 Topps Comic Booklet set.  For those who do not know, a booklet was inserted into every pack of 1970 Topps Baseball.  There are a total of 24 booklets to the set, and they are fairly common and inexpensive.  A complete set can be purchased for less than $50 - sometimes much less if you're patient.

I've had this set for a number of years, but never spent any time looking through them.  So, I decided to checkout the comic artwork and quickly realized I was missing a booklet for a complete set.  Booklet #14, the Ernie Banks, was nowhere to be found.  So, I quickly went on eBay and found an affordable copy to complete my set.  WooHoo!

Check out a scan of the entire set below:

There is only one booklet for each team, and Dodger starter Bill Singer was our representative.  I decided to scan this entire booklet to share with you.  Check it out below.

#17 Bill Singer

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Welcome to the Blue, Darwin Barney!

Imagine that, a trade that actually gets completed isn't one that was bandied about all over the rumor mill.  Instead, there were only brief mentions, and it elicited hardly a whisper.

The Dodgers made a trade with the Cubs for Darwin Barney, via Chris Cotillo on twitter:

According to a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired infielder Darwin Barney and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Barney, 28, won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award at second base in 2012 and has a .990 combined fielding percentage at second base, third base and shortstop in five Major League seasons with Chicago-NL from 2010-14. He has paced NL second basemen in fielding percentage in each of the last two seasons, posting a .997 mark in 2012 and a .993 mark in 2013. In 542 career games at the plate, he has a .244 career batting average with 18 home runs and 146 RBI, but has been at his best against NL West opponents during the course of his career with a .273 average (99-for-363) in 107 games.
Barney is no-hit great-glove infielder who will likely be a defensive option off the bench.  He won a gold glove as a 2nd baseman in 2012, but is just a .244 lifetime hitter.  On July 22nd he was DFA'd by the Cubs, so you had to figure other teams might want to add him just because of his glove.  Heck, with the Dan Uggla experiment failing spectacularly in San Francisco this weekend I would think the Giants might have been interested.  Now, the Dodgers scuttle any chance a competitor grabs Barney's glove for the stretch run.  At this time it is unknown who on the Dodger roster will be sent down to the minors to make room for him.

Also, I wonder if the recent Erisbel Arruebarrena scuttlebutt over the weekend was the real motivation for this trade.  You would think that Erisbel would be our natural defensive replacement off the bench down the stretch, but his recent fight in AAA has likely put a squash to that notion. 

In celebration of Darwin Barney officially becoming a Dodger, I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photo grabbed from of Barney and the 1987 Topps Baseball card design.  I also couldn't help but make the fantasy card on the right.  Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

Also, Beto Duran on twitter pointed to a great video featuring Darwin Barney with the Batting Stance Guy at Dodger Stadium.  Check that out below.

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Blog Kiosk: 7/28/2014 - Dodger Links - A Sweep of the Giants and Should the FCC Get Involved?

Woo Hoo!  Dodgers swept the Giants this weekend.  They now find themselves with a 1.5 game lead over the gnats.  The top play of the afternoon was Dee Gordon scoring on the wild-pitch strike out to Adrian Gonzalez in the top of the 5th inning.  Watch it here.  The photo above of Dee scoring via @MLB on twitter.  The Dodgers would then quickly score two more runs to take a 4 to 2 lead.  They would eventually win the game 4 to 3.

BTW, the Dodger got key offensive contributions from the #4 to #7 batters in their lineup.  They recorded 6 hits; including a run-scoring triple by Crawford, a run-scoring single by Uribe and a pair of hits by both Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp.  It appears the "Boys in Blue" are taking it to another level for the second half of the season.

Of special note, Matt Kemp is looking very good at the plate.  He looks comfortable and is starting to lay off pitches out of the zone.  As a result, he is starting to hit the ball square and being rewarded for his patience with some timely hits.  Unfortunately, we have yet to see any real power, but that is to be expected.  Considering the kind of shoulder injury he was dealing with you shouldn't expect him to hit like the old Matt just yet.  It's likely we won't see anything like that until this time next season.  In the meantime, he's accepted the reality that he can't drive the ball like he used to and is happy to just "hit 'em where they ain't."

Check out a bunch of photos from yesterdays game via Jon SooHoo here.  Below are some more Dodger links:
“We have a chance to possibly achieve something here. That’s above everything else,” he said. “It makes everything worth going through.”
"We may not do anything. We still have a club with upside to it," said Colletti. "There's still more from this club as it's constituted. But historically, we've been active in July and August, too. We'll see what we can do.

"I think we have the players here that can win."

  • Via Larry Brown Sports, "Reno Aces and Albuquerque Isotopes in major brawl (Video)."  This was no shoving match - It was a rumble!  Larry Brown has a couple of videos of the melee. Per Eric Stephen at True Blue LA, 10 players were ejected (4 Isotopes and 6 Aces); including Cuban Erisbel Arruebarrena. He will definately get a huge suspension, so you shouldn't expect him in LA for quite some time.  Another video of the incident can be seen here.  BTW, the day after this fight Arruebarrena was reassigned to Single-A ball, via JP Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers.
  • Via Joe Flint of the LA Times, "FCC should help reach deal to end Dodgers TV standoff, lawmakers say"
Seven members of Congress led by Rep. Tony Cardenas are calling on the FCC to mediate an agreement between Time Warner Cable and distributors.

"Consumers deserve the opportunity to watch their program of choice," Cardenas wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "The ongoing stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV providers has reached a point where mediation by the FCC is necessary."

Co-signing the letter with Cardenas were Democratic House members Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Alan Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez, Janice Hahn and Julia Brownley.
I'm not sure if this is a great idea, but I guess anything is worth a try.
  • In an obvious move to reduce the chances that PED ballplayers make the Hall of Fame, they decide to cut short the eligibility period from 15-years to 10-years, via an Associated Press report on ESPN.
  • Oh, boy!  This is a major Fan Foul!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Dodger Videos: Scully, Rickles and the Baseball Bunch

Here are this Sunday's Dodger videos.

Via In Focus on ESPN, a short clip of Vin Scully explaining how he decides if we will return each season.

Video Link:

Awesome!  Check out this vintage video of Don Rickles joining the Dodgers as a coach.  Tommy Lasorda invited him in to be tough on the guys.  He lambast Pedro Guerrero, Bill Russell, Bill Madlock and Steve Sax.  I am unsure exactly when this was originally filmed.

Video Link:

I ran into this full episode video of the Baseball Bunch and knew I had to share it.  This show was a must watch for youthful Baseball fans who grey up in the early to mid-80's.  It was the most important show to watch every Saturday morning.  This episode is from 1986 and features Johnny Bench, Ozzie Smith, Graig Nettles and the San Diego Chicken. 

Video Link:

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dodger Gamers Puig and Ramirez Visited Sony Playstation Headquarters

Clearly, both Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez were inspired by Sony Playstation yesterday.  After all, Sony makes the popular MLB 14 The Show Baseball video game, and they both battered Giants pitching like they were playing on easy mode last night.

Before the game, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez visited the bay area headquarters of Sony Playstation and received the grand tour.  Check out the pic above tweeted out by @MLBTheShow featuring them inside, and below they are posed in front of the headquarters.
(photos above via Hanley's and Puig's accounts)

So, what exactly did they get to see?

No one seems to be saying.  Although, a revealing pic appeared on the /Dodgers Reddit yesterday.  The boys apparently spent some time with Project Morpheus. This is Sony's project working on their upcoming virtual reality headset.  As you can see, Puig is wearing Sony's VR headset below. As Reddit commenter Alberthere noted, we should call him "Daft Puig."

I wonder if this new video game tool helped them see the ball more clearly at PacBell Park.  It was video-game-like in how they both treated Giants pitching like they had used cheat codes.  How else can you explain three triples by Puig and Hanley's two-hit night? 
(pic via Reddittor: puress90)

As you likely know, both Puig and Ramirez have a growing relationship with Sony.  Earlier in the season they debut Sony's MLB 14 The Show during their Opening Series roadtrip to Australia.  Watch the video below to check that out. 

Video Link:

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Blog Kiosk: 7/26/2014 - Dodger Links - Puig, Greinke and Van Slyke Finding Success

Yasiel Puig had a monster night last night.  He absolutely punished the Giants and Tim Lincecum.  Puig belted three triples, a double and drove in 2 runs.  In fact, he was the first Dodger to have three triples in a game since Jimmy Sheckard in 1901.  Pic above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.
While his defense has been more than adequate, it’s been with the bat where Van Slyke has provided the most value, hitting at a .393 wOBA and 157 wRC+ in 168 plate appearances (PA), each good for second place on the Dodgers (minimum 150 PA) behind Puig’s .399 wOBA and 161 wRC+, respectively.

  • Via Ken Gurnick at, "Greinke records rare four-strikeout inning."  He did it once before in 2012 as a memeber of the Angels.
"This time I didn't even notice," said Greinke. "I still wasn't pitching as well as I wanted. The strikeout pitch on Hunter wasn't where I wanted it to go and I was wrapped up in that and making sure it's not a big inning."

The previous Los Angeles pitchers with four strikeouts in one inning -- Pete Richert (1962), Don Drysdale (1965), Darren Dreifort (2003) and Brad Penny (2006).
"I just want to be on the field helping my team win," Puig said after the game. "Whatever position they ask me to play, I'm going to do my best. I do prefer center field a little bit, because I can run more."
    • This just new.  Topps is creating 75th Anniversary Hall of Fame Metal wall art featuring 20 star ballplayers on a 1972 Topps Baseball card design.  They are all numbered to just #/49 copies each and are for sale directly from Topps at $99.  Dodger legend Jackie Robinson is a part of the set.  Go here to order, and see a pic of it on the left.
    • Via TMZ we read a story about an elderly couple that's suing the team, "L.A. Kings ruined our sex lives... Lawsuit Claims."
    • Here's a great old news story written by John Eisenberg of the Baltimore Sun in 1995, "Ruthian myths don't stray far from facts BABE RUTH 100 YEARS."
    Yet it is true that Ruth once hit a ball between a pitcher's legs and over the center fielder's head. In 1927, he hit a line drive at Senators pitcher Hod Lisenbee, who jumped to avoid being hit. The ball nicked the underside of Lisenbee's thigh and, hit with tremendous power, took a huge hop when it landed just beyond the infield, bouncing over the head of center fielder Tris Speaker, who had been sneaking in hoping to pick off a runner on second (a favorite ruse of his). Ruth wound up with an extra-base hit.

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    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Kershaw Joins Koufax as a Hickok Belt Winner - Check Out My Vintage Photo Featuring Koufax Winning Same Award in 1963

    Sometimes luck is all about timing.

    For instance, I recently won a couple of vintage photographs through RMY Auctions, one of which features Sandy Koufax winning the Hickok Belt for his accomplishments in 1963.  As luck would have it, once that photo arrived in my hands, a press release was issued naming Clayton Kershaw as a monthly winner of the Hickock Belt for June 2014.

    How about that, eh?

    It's like the cosmos momentarily aligned to give me inspiration for a new blog post.  Or, maybe it's just dumb blind luck.

    Anyway, first to the Kershaw announcement. Through voting conducted by a select panel of members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, they chose Clayton Kershaw as the June 2014 winner of the Hickock Belt. This should come as no surprise since he was clearly the most overwhelming sports athlete in the country last month. Via a press release:
    Kershaw's selection as the Hickok Belt Award winner for June 2014 recognizes him as "the best of the best" in professional sports for the month and makes him the sixth candidate eligible to receive the 2014 overall award, joining previous 2014 monthly winners Kevin Durant, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Bubba Watson, and Nelson Cruz.
    I'm sure you're wondering, what the heck is a Hickock Belt? 

    Well... The Hickock Belt was initially founded in 1950, and was known as the S. Rae Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year Award.  It recognizes the top American professional athlete of the year, and they awarded a belt (much like a boxing championship belt) to its winner.  For the next 27 years some of the greatest American athletes were awarded the prize; including Phil Rizzuto, Rocky Marciano, Willie Mays, Ben Hogan and Joe Namath.  Also, a couple of Dodgers have won the award.  Maury Wills won it in 1962, and Sandy Koufax won it twice (1963 and 1965).  Now, after a 36 year hiatus the award returns to honor the countries best.  Unlike in years past, monthly award winners are named with a single annual overall winner named at years end.  You can visit the Hickock Belt website here.

    As indicated on the write-up on the reverse of the vintage photo of Sandy Koufax (as seen below);
    "Sandy Koufax of the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers tries on the $10,000 jewel-studded Hickock Belt awarded him January 20 as Professional Athlete of the Year."
    If you look closely at the vintage photo you'll notice that it is an alligator-skinned belt with a solid gold buckle, a 4 carat diamond and various gemstones.  I have no idea if today's winner receives a similar pricey award.  I get the impression that it is no longer as high-profile and prestigious as it once was.  Still, to be named along with other greats of American sports past is quite an accomplishment.

    Congrats, Clayton!

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    Hanley's Disgusting 2013 Batting Helmet is on Auction

    I still remember last season like it was yesterday.  That excitement and awe still resonates in my mind.  When the Dodgers, shockingly, rattled off a cavalcade of winning unmatched in club history, I thought that this could not be really happening.  Was I living a dream?  Were we all?

    Some folks believed that the emergence of Puig and the continued brilliance of Kershaw was the reason for our rise.  I think Hanley Ramirez's powerful right-handed bat, finally healthy, was the final rock that caused the avalanche. 

    2013 proved to be unforgettable, and the thing I most remember about Hanley and his season was that pine-tar laden batting helmet that looked like a mixture of snot, feces and chocolate.  It's like it had magically coalesced to insure that all who stared at it too long would be too disgusted to go on.  Opposing catchers were sickened by it, pitchers could not possibly concentrate and umpires were too mesmerized to pay attention.  If not for a careless pitch that knocked Ramirez out for the playoffs, I think that helmet would have taken us to the promised land.

    Seriously... I'm not joking!

    Anyway, Huggins & Scott Auctions has the real batting helmet Hanley used that season up for sale.  Check it out below.
    (Auction Link)

    It has all of the gunk, dirt and grime we all remember.  There is even a 2013 Post-Season sticker attached to the back of it.  Go here to check out the auction.  The starting price is steep at $1,500.00.

    Via the auction description:
    Already a veteran of nine big league seasons, superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez reached his first-ever postseason in 2013 and powered the Dodgers to an NLDS triumph over Atlanta with a home run, six RBI and a .500 batting average. As he posted those astounding numbers in the October spotlight, Ramirez wore this batting helmet. The blue plastic shell features a left ear flap, while an “LA” decal is adhered to the front center. At the back, Ramirez’ number “13” is displayed in white-on-blue decals and accompanied by a “2013 Postseason” logo decal. The interior is home to leather-covered padding (with a “Rawlings” label) affixed along the perimeter, back, crown and ear flap. The outer shell is caked with a generous amount of pine tar, which is photo matched in the October 28, 2013 edition of ESPN Magazine.
    Below are more photos of the helmet.  Click any pic to embiggen.

    Pic at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.

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    Blog Kiosk: 7/25/2014 - Dodger Links - AJ's Bobblehead, Pederson and what to do with Haren

    Here's a great vintage pic of former Dodger slugger Raul Mondesi with his son Raul Mondesi Jr. from 1985, pic via @Dodgers_History on twitter.
    From the front office to the manager’s office, the Dodgers have faith that Beckett can make the necessary adjustments in the coming weeks and months. The organization does not perceive that his first-half success was a fluke.

    Haren is a different story. His next turn in the rotation will almost certainly be skipped, since the Dodgers have off-days today and Monday.
    I wouldn't be surprised to see Haren moved before the trade deadline; especially considering he is about 58 innings short (at 180 innings) of his option automatically vesting.

    • Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports writes, "Free Giancarlo Stanton."
    • In honor of the Baseball Hall of Fame's 75th Anniversay and Inducation weekend MLB ballplayers will be wearing the patch on the left on Sunday in its honor, pic via @MLB_PR on twitter.
    • This is both crazy and cool.  Via Nick Schwartz at USA Today, "A Korean baseball team is filling the stadium with robot fans."  There's a video so you can see it in action.
    • Via Extra Mustard at Sports Illustrated, "We pranked a minor league baseball crowd with some free stuff that no one wanted."  There's an funny video at the link above.

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    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    OYO Video Commemorates Puig's 1st Major League Home Run

    If you've never heard of OYO then you're missing out.  OYO makes Lego-like figurines of athletes and American sports teams for fans and collectors alike.  They meld the joy of being a sports fan with the childlike fun of playing with toys.... And, what could be better then that?

    On their YouTube page they've been producing stop-motion videos featuring their creations, and one of their most recent concoctions features some of Baseball's most memorable home runs.  In fact, one the homers it shows is Yasiel Puig very first Major League dinger.  Even better, it includes actual audio of Vin Scully's enthusiastic call.
    "Havana, Cuba has arrived!"
    Watch it below.  Unfortunately, you have to watch one of Reggie Jackson's home runs against the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series.  Boo!

    Video Link:

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